With the 2023 Red Bull X-Alps quickly approaching I thought it would be fun to sit down with Chrigel “The Eagle” Maurer to take a walk back through his 7 winning campaigns. No one in our sport has been and continues to be more dominant than Chrigel. He won his first X-Alps in 2009 and hasn’t lost since (2023 will be his 8th campaign). He’s won everything (many at least 3 times)- Bornes to Fly, X-Pyr, Dolomiti Superfly, EigerTour, Dolomitiman, VercoFly (which he won flying tandem too!), and of course dominated for several years on the world cup, is a test pilot for Advance, heads up the X-Alps Academy and is without rival as the best mountain pilot on Earth.
Tim Rochas is a long-time Niviuk Test pilot (he did his first testing for Niviuk at the age of 12!), wing and harness designer, French team member and veteran World Cup pilot. Tim has has recently gotten into hike and fly racing not only for his own pursuits but to become a Red Bull X-Alps supporter of Tanguy-Renoud Goud in the 23′ race this summer.
Steve Bramfitt was a rookie in the 2021 Red Bull X-Alps (GBR1) this year and had a phenomenal race, and like everyone this year- experienced plenty of harrowing and wonderful moments. In this episode we talk about his physical and mental preparation, dealing with the unknowns going into such a huge endeavor, how he assembled his team, some of the crazier (and hysterical) moments in the race, his scary accident in the UAE Hike and Fly championships and his rather nasty accident on the last full day of the X-Alps.
World Cup Competition pilot Johanna Hamne had a very big year. She had a daughter, and when she was 8 months pregnant she broke the Nordic FAI record. That’s not a mistype. She was 8 MONTHS pregnant when she flew the biggest triangle in the Nordic countries! You will love this story. But that’s just the start. Johanna is a regular on the World Cup circuit and brings an always-smiling face to our sport. We delve into how risk tolerance changes (or doesn’t) after you have a baby, competing after you’ve had a child, balancing flying with your partner (who also flies), how to process mistakes, flying flatlands and flying in a lot of wind, training and competing in Acro, jumping out of helicopters, getting currency, balancing life and flying, and a lot more.
Peter Zaccagnino is an aviation Hall of Fame pilot; 4 X Air Racing Gold Champion; has flown over 23,000 hours in more than 270 aircraft, flight tested more than 685 and even built three of his own. Peter’s company, High Performance Aircraft Group manages several corporate jets, provides his clients with custom-tailored, high-intensity world tours, and performs flight test services for several manufacturers, including the U.S. and foreign militaries. He’s also the film producer of multiple Discovery Channel productions and starred in a lead role in the “Dangerous Flights” series.
Veteran Gin test pilot, designer, European champion, and multiple-time German team member Torsten Siegel has been racing paragliders for nearly 30 years. He designed for UP Paragliders and then Swing before moving to Gin over a decade ago and has left an indelible mark on the sport since the early 90’s. I spoke with Torsten immediately after this years Superfinal in Disentis, Switzerland to get his thoughts on the first superfinal that’s been held in the mountains and to get his thoughts on all things racing- the risk, the tactics, the equipment and how to be consistent in the ultimate game- racing fabric and string in the sky.
In this episode we discuss how Maxime approaches training (physical and mental), his thoughts on just making better decisions instead of doing SIV for pilots who don’t have the money or time, how to manage your emotions, how to thermal and glide better, dealing with the “mental pain” that sometimes comes with flying, finding the opportunities from mistakes, the importance of visualization, and we look back at a couple key moves that made all the difference for Chrigel in the 2019 race.
Yael Margelisch began flying ten years ago at the age of 19. She’s an Ozone and Swiss national team pilot, has been on the podium ten times on the world cup, is the first woman to fly over 500 km and owns the current female distance world record of 531 km as well as the current women’s FAI record (263 km) and is gunning hard for a 2021 Red Bull X-Alps campaign (she supported Michael Witschi in 2015).
Charles Cazeaux began flying when he was 15 years old. Shortly after that he became the first person to enter the French juniors program that was created to build exceptional pilots who would represent the country on the world stage. Needless to say the program worked very well indeed for Charles! He’s been on the French team every year since 1998, he won the Superfinal in 2009, won the world championships in 2011, holds multiple world records and instructs SIV and cross country with Seiko Fukuoka for the Airlinks Academy.